1. Review your report’s current job description
It’s important to refresh your memory regarding expectations, what has been communicated to your report, and evaluate if adjustments need to be made. Reviewing their current job description also helps remove unfair expectations that can put pressure on the employee and affect their performance.
2. Review past data
Check past data like previous feedback and notes from 1:1 meetings to highlight where your report has improved, where they’re still lacking and need more help, and where they’re declining at. This is not to punish them, but to follow their progress and provide support.
If this isn’t an employee’s first performance appraisal at your company, have a look at past reviews to gauge their overall performance, growth, and areas for improvement. Using a people management tool like Leapsome would make this step easier. Also, documenting feedback is a great way to measure employee growth and performance for future reviews.
3. Reflect upon the aim of employee reviews
Why are you writing this review? To decide who to reward or promote? To understand the development and growth of an employee? To see how each employee contributes to the overall objective of your company?
Whichever your goal is, a well-written employee review has the potential to:
- Help employees grow and develop their skills (which will also improve their performance at work);
- Give employees a chance to learn new skills that can benefit their career growth and the company’s needs;
- Encourage managers to get to know their reports better. Understanding their strengths and areas for development will also help guide managers on the type of tasks they assign to their reports and why;
- Help employees understand the company’s expectations, rules, and standards;
- Improve the work relationship and encourage honest and clear communication between employees. Knowing their growth matters the most discourages unhealthy competition;
- Make it easier for employees to ask for help, voice their opinions, and be confident about the value they bring to the company.
You should not use employee reviews to:
- Punish employees. Identifying areas to be worked on doesn’t equal failure. Here’s more on how reviews can be used for development and not judgment;
- Rank employees among each other, creating unhealthy competition and resentment between teammates.
4. Discuss your aim with the person being reviewed
To promote a culture of transparency and fairness, remind the reviewee of the appraisal’s aim. Also, clarify the process: Who would write the reviews? Which areas will they be evaluated in? How will they be evaluated? What type of questions will be asked? Is the review tied to compensation indirectly or directly?
5. Write objectively
- Recount areas of improvement first. Show the reviewee that their contributions are seen and appreciated.
- Give specific examples of when they did well at something and when they didn’t — and don’t forget to provide context. Saying “I feel that sometimes you invest too much time scheduling meetings on less important topics” isn’t clear enough. Specify instances in which this happened, to make it clear that your feedback isn’t a personal attack.
- Have clarity on the fact that reviews require that someone judges someone else. And judgments are vulnerable to biases because humans are innately biased. A biased review is an incorrect assessment of someone’s performance and helps no one.
- Be mindful that no matter how accurate your comments are and how much context you provide, your assessment of another person’s work still reflects your opinion. So be honest about this and use sentences like “I feel that…” and “I think that…”.
- Whenever sharing constructive feedback, tie it to actionable tips. Constructive feedback is a way to foster trust, ownership, and collaboration between employees. Destructive feedback looks like: “You should fix your data analysis.” Constructive feedback looks like this: “Have you tried to visualize the data to see if there are gaps in your analysis? You can use Google Charts for that. And a pie chart may be better to visualize than a line chart.”
Read our playbook on how to give constructive feedback to learn even more.
6. Send out the reviews
You can hand out their reviews via a document or printed version, but the most effective and time-saving method (which will also help you analyze results) is to use a performance management tool.
Follow-up best practices for employee appraisals
Have a development talk with your report
Schedule a time to go through the review. Communicate clearly, be empathetic, and let your report know that you’re available to answer questions they may have (during and after the development talk). If you feel that’s needed, remind them that their work is not a reflection of their worth and that it can be improved.
This time should also be used to create a learning plan alongside the employee to help them grow even more. It’s a good idea to prepare for this talk by researching courses and other learning resources to recommend to your report.
Document employee reviews
Document reviews in a centralized place (like a people management tool). This way, writing future reviews, tracking progress, and creating a development plan for your report will be much easier.
Share continuous feedback with your report
Don’t just share feedback during reviews. Feedback should be ongoing and never catch the employee by surprise. Continuous feedback makes you more than a manager: You should be a coach to your reports.
— Interested in implementing reviews to boost employee performance and engagement? Check out our playbook on how to run a 360° review. 😉